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2013 Grants - Iqbal
Shifting Balance from Neurodegeneration to Regeneration
Khalid Iqbal, Ph.D.
Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc. at New York State Institute for Basic Research
Staten Island, New York
2013 Zenith Fellows Award
In recent years, scientists have found that new nerve cells are continually regenerated throughout life in some parts of the brain, although at a slow rate. This observation has led to the idea that hormones or drugs that promote nerve cell regeneration may be a viable way to combat neurodegenerative disorders.
Khalid Iqbal, Ph.D., and colleagues have been studying ways to stimulate regeneration of nerve cells in the brain. In preliminary studies, they have identified two related molecules that stimulate nerve cell regeneration in a region of the brain called the dentate gyrus, which is known to be important for learning and memory and is impaired in Alzheimer's disease. These two molecules are peptides, which are made of the same chemical units as proteins but are much smaller.
Dr. Iqbal and colleagues have proposed to study the peptides they have discovered in mice that have been genetically engineered to have Alzheimer's-like disease. They plan to test if peptide treatment improves cognitive function in mice that have early- or mid-stage disease. They will then examine the brains of the animals to determine if peptide treatment slowed or prevented biochemical or structural changes in the brain that normally occur during the disease process. These studies will be an initial test of a potentially important new strategy for combating Alzheimer's disease.